Marking a first for Orange County, the Anaheim Elementary School District is giving every one of its students the opportunity to receive quality outdoor science education through OCDE’s long-running Inside the Outdoors program.
You read that right — every student at every grade level. For Anaheim Elementary, that means approximately 20,000 kids in transitional kindergarten through grade six will receive hands-on lessons covering science and nature.
Superintendent Linda Wagner said the investment was made as the district developed its Local Control and Accountability Plan, which annually seeks feedback from key stakeholders and allocates resources accordingly.
“Our parents have always told us how important the field trip is to their child’s full experience,” Wagner said. “Inside the Outdoors continues to set the bar by providing remarkable memories and real-life lessons for our students, and we are proud of our continued partnership.”
Administered by the Orange County Department of Education, Inside the Outdoors was established in 1974 to expand students’ knowledge and stewardship of the natural environment. The program, which aligns with the state’s standards, offers 14 field trip locations in Orange County — and one in Los Angeles County — and it dispatches Traveling Scientists to schools to promote the awareness and appreciation of science. Much to the delight of students, the scientists are often accompanied by exotic and native animals, and hands-on science labs. (For more, check out the video above.)
The partnership between Inside the Outdoors and the Anaheim Elementary School District spans four decades and has provided science instruction to an estimated 250,000 students. But this year marks the first time that every student in the district will participate.
Kelly Barrett, a curriculum specialist in Anaheim Elementary, said all grade levels can benefit from the program’s high quality field trips, which enable students of all ages to connect with nature and engage in meaningful science lessons.
Meanwhile, it’s worth noting that improving environmental instruction is among the initiatives supported by State Superintendent Tom Torlakson in his recently released Blueprint for Environmental Literacy.
“Climate change, wildfires, and the drought are clear reminders of how important environmental issues are to our own lives and the health of planet Earth,” Torlakson says. “Students need to learn about the environment so they can make informed choices and help to maintain our clean water and air, and preserve our scenic resources.”
The blueprint recommends making environmental education available to all students, finding a funding source to sustain and improve instruction, working with outside organizations to ensure quality instruction and providing students with a variety of learning experiences.
Inside the Outdoors would appear to check all of the above boxes, plus one more: Students think it’s pretty cool.
“Most of us remember a field trip experience from when we were young, and it is very exciting that Anaheim students will have similar experiences and memories,” said Inside the Outdoors Operations Manager Stephanie Smith. “This is a great opportunity for students to get rich, hands-on science field trips to help them connect with what they are being taught in their classroom.”